“Abandoning his beggar form and reassuming his monkey form, the elephant among monkeys [Hanuman] placed those two heroes on his back and departed.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.34)
भिक्षुरूपं परित्यज्य वानरं रूपमास्थितः।
पृष्ठमारोप्य तौ वीरौ जगाम कपिकुञ्जरः||
bhikṣurūpaṃ parityajya vānaraṃ rūpamāsthitaḥ।
pṛṣṭhamāropya tau vīrau jagāma kapikuñjaraḥ ||
“I understand that the age-honored tradition is to give a person a new name upon initiation. This is bestowed by the spiritual master, who is officially recognized as the guide, to lead the student to the heights of spiritual life, which ideally culminates in liberation.
“The idea is that only the human being has the opportunity for the second birth. The initial janma is the same for everyone, including the animals. The mechanism of birth may vary, but the same placement with a temporary, material form occurs for the individual soul.
“Dvija means ‘twice-born.’ The spiritual master, the guru, gives the second birth. Within the Vaishnava tradition of spirituality descending from the Vedas, the new name has a ‘dasa’ suffix. This indicates service. For instance, if my new name is ‘Krishna dasa’, it means that I am a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Krishna.
“Though we often overlook the dasa aspect, it is important to understanding the complete picture. I am not becoming God. I am not turning into Divinity. The only transformation is in consciousness; I agree to serve in such a way that I might one day be acknowledged as a good servant.
“The issue I see is that someone might not want to become a servant. They think that is a menial position. Why should they be relegated to something lower, when they could rise to a higher stature? What if I want to do more for God than just serve? What if I want to interact in a different way? Isn’t this forced relationship a hindrance to the outpouring of pure affection?”
God is known to be greater than the greatest. If we took the entire universe for the purpose of analysis, God would be greater. We could never find enough cloth to appropriately dress Him. We could never procure enough food to feed Him. We could never produce enough sound to reach every sphere and every space.
This is the natural way of thinking, that God is the greatest and I am miniscule. I am nothing compared to Him. He is large and I am small. He is unlimited, while I have defects. He spans the entire scope of time, while I can barely recall what I did yesterday.
This does not mean that the roles in the relationship have to be fixed. In approaching the Almighty to solve my problems, I am the party in need and He is the order supplier. But this is not to say that the roles can’t be reversed.
I can be big and He can be small. He can be the one in need and I the one to supply the solution. We see evidence of this in a beautiful depiction of an historical event. Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana are being carried on the shoulders of Shri Hanuman.
Hanuman is the dasa in this instance, but he is also of the larger stature. He is strong enough to hold both warriors and take them with him to the top of Mount Rishyamukha. Hanuman is helping Rama to find His missing wife, Sita Devi. Hanuman is facilitating a meeting between Rama and the monkey-king named Sugriva.
Doing good work for the Almighty can bring a real sense of pride. It is not that I am lowered in my position as dasa. I am not somehow inferior to someone else. Rather, I am acting in my constitutional position, the one that will make me happiest.
The Supreme Lord is so kind and merciful that He will appear to be in distress, in need, and requiring the assistance of someone who is greater. Those with pure love for Him will not hesitate to offer such assistance, using every tool available to them. Hanuman is not ashamed to become larger in stature, to use his potency in any way necessary for serving the interests of God.
In that stature not ashamed,
Or that his services retained.
On shoulders carrying there,
To top Sugriva where.
A servant all the same,
But with different stature came.
Such that remembered still,
That meeting near hill.